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A bit of a diversion from tech…

When we first moved into our current neighborhood, my wife and I wanted to really change how we interacted with neighbors from our previous neighborhood (which was your typical, drive in the garage, close it before anyone sees you).  We lucked out with a great neighborhood and quickly made friends for both us and our kids.  My wife was even able to really form a tighter knit community around things for stay-at-home moms and a babysitting co-op.  It’s been real fun.

We decided the first year to host a holiday party.  Trying to navigate around people’s thoughts of holidays, company parties, and the general lameness that usually is holiday parties, we tried to be different.  Fans of Seinfeld, I liked the ‘Festivus’ idea and we latched on to that.  We decided the first Saturday in December would be our holiday party – if you could make it, great, if you can’t…sucks to be you.

Each year we basically did a reverse white-elephant (or yankee swap) party.  We also had a chili cook-off.  Each participant in the cook-off had a chance at the coveted golden ladle (which is a plastic cheap ladle spray painted gold of course).  We have 10 contestants, each voted on by the attendees to determine winners in each category.  It’s a lot of fun.  We also have prizes for ‘best dressed’ which actually means worst dressed (some classic examples here and here).  Heck even crazy Santa with his escort for the evening might show up after a rough night.  We also have historically made a party favor…here’s some shirts we’ve made (click on image for better picture):

FestivusShirt  fstv20061front Festivus 2008 Shirt design

Each person gets a raffle ticket which then becomes a game of ‘what’s behind bag number XXX’ – which can be anything from a portable urinal for traveling to a Nintendo Wii – there’s crap with the good.  Every couple leaves with *something* though.  The winner of the chili cook-off can steal any prize as well. 

Some people don’t like these types of parties based on themes.  That’s cool, whatever – people like different things.  We really just pick the name and don’t really do much of the Seinfeld-esque things anymore (we used to)…it’s our tradition, so phooey on you for not liking it.

This year we wanted to do something different (and were late planning).  We decided to create family experiences (Festivus is usually an adult-only party), so we decided ice skating in the desert!  Festivus on Ice was created and we invited our friends and their entire families if they chose.  No cook-off this year, no shirts, and no prizes for everyone.  We did still ask folks to dress in their ‘best’ – and some figured since it was a skate rink, they would dress the part.  The winners of the top three prizes did not disappoint:

The Winners for the Night

It was awesome.  And really great fun for the family (yes, my friend covered himself up after a while :-)).  We had no injuries and only one reported child crying.  After the microphone in the rink failed, the I am T-Pain application on my phone saved the day and added some Auto-Tune humor for my master-of-ceremonies commentaries throughout the night.  Here’s a summary of the evening:

We really love our friends and neighbors and have a great time being a part of our community.  Hopefully this might inspire some of you garage-closers to get to know your neighbors better and create experiences that you’ll remember for a long time.  We certainly do.  Thanks to all our friends for coming and celebrating Festivus with us.

Happy holidays to you…whatever holiday you may celebrate, religious or not.

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i'm surprised how much is going on in the month of december...usually it is pretty idle...but this is my largest travel month.

after just visiting the and the (thanks to both for hosting), i'm off tomorrow to redmond for the silverlight firestarter event.  i come home just in time for our annual festivus party which i'm super excited for.  i've been storing some prizes that i've gotten throughout the year and am stoked for this weekend.  i'm pissed at myself for not getting t-shirts made this year...argh...oh well, i hope everyone enjoys themselves nonetheless.

after that i'm heading to los angeles all next week to chill with the Phizzpop Design Challenge folks.  i just got a new hd camera and am hoping to talk to some design folks throughout the week (side note: any suggestions for software for vista that can edit hd content from an xh-a1 are appreciated).  i hear master chief might even make an appearance out there!  in the middle of the week i'm heading down to irvine i think to hang with woody for their installfest.

i won't be at the phoenix barcamp, but if you are in the area and want to share something, you should head over to the barcamp phoenix...a great group of peeps putting that free event on as well!

i then come home for the weekend, breathe (maybe), hug my kids, wash some clothes and then head out to riverside for the for some chatting.  i hope you all show up for this one and heckle me...i'll be tired enough so my guard might be down ;-) -- i am also bringing a new zune to give away -- perfect timing for the holidays.

i'll have some downtime after that and then we have a full day of .NET-ness in phoenix on 20 DEC with the MSDN power series event and another installfest.  whew!  just maybe i'll have some time -- in between that i have some "use it or lose it" vacation time i need to squeeze in.

if you are in any of these areas the same time i am, let me know and maybe we can hook up a nerd dinner or something.

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an insult to mankind is happening in my area.  no seriously, it is.  a radio station i listen to announced a concert happening soon in the summer...and they are calling it Festivus for the rest of us.  i think i nearly caused an accident on the 101 when i heard this...my car swerved and explicatives were flying all over the place.

that's right...festivus in mid-summer.  clearly the peak (98.7) couldn't be doing such an injustice to ?  (note: for those in phoenix and know my musical taste, i listen to 98.7 because it is the least suckiest for me on my 1.5 hr commute sometimes...oh, and the fact i have no ipod/zune adapter in my car -- so step off the jokes about listening to k-lite -- they play some hard core hits of the 70's, 80's and today ;-)).

i, for one, cannot sit idly by and watch this happen...i must do something about it, and so should you.  after all, everyone knows that festivus is actually december 23.  the national festivus conservators (NFC) are angered by this blatant disregard of the holiday.  where are the airing of grievances?  the pole?  c'mon peak, don't be so lame.  each year i hold a festivus party (okay, not on the 23rd exactly, but at least i'm honoring the time within the ballpark of a few friggin days) for friends, neighbors and family.  it's a blast.  yes, there is a pole.

so, if you feel so offended as i, let them know...preserve festivus and vote at preservefestivus.com!  let us be heard people!  let the pointy-hairs at the peak know that we will not stand for such an abomination of the holiday!  send this to everyone you know!!!